Today is the 30th mothers’ day I have celebrated without my mother’s physical presence in my life and the 13th mothers’ day I have celebrated being an actual mother. Both experiences have been profound, pivotal, transformative and deeply informed by the practice of yoga.
I came to the yoga mat for the first time during a time of great heartache after the end of a significant romantic relationship. I hurt badly and the pain was raw. I had quit drinking a few years back and with self-destruction not an option for me, in desperation, I rolled out my mat and dove into the practice.
What I hadn’t bargained for was more pain and discomfort, which inevitably arose as I dove deeper into the practice and into myself. Years of self-loathing, judgment and so many fears resurfacing with each asana and every breath… Layer upon layer of imposed conditions and perfectionist tendencies needing to be peeled away.
And amid it all, there was this tremendous grief at the loss of my mother that I had run from for the last 12 years starting to surface . . . and like an all-consuming flood, I was inundated and overwhelmed by the tides of emotions.
What the practice of yoga immediately made clear was that: “The only way out is through . . . “
And so, I practiced and I cried. . . I practiced and I raged. . . . I practiced and I bargained . . . I practiced and I fell apart, I practiced and I cried some more . . .. And then imperceptibly, I practiced and started to slowly heal . . .
Eventually, I landed and continue to land in a place that acknowledges that the loss of my mother at a young age has positively informed the woman I am today – a woman who continues to be vulnerable but also is tremendously strong and resilient.
Fast forward, married at 40 and wanting to have a child but desperately afraid at the same time, I discover I am indeed pregnant at 43 years old. The old saying “be careful for what you wish for. . .” came to mind as I contemplated an end to the life I had known and the uncertainty I felt at being able to rise to the role of motherhood at this point in my life.
So, again at an emotional crossroads, I rolled out my mat and dove into the practice. And what I discovered was a lot of irrational fear and illusion about what I was up against in terms of my identity. My life as a yoga teacher was my self-definition and my passion – would I be able to hold on to that? The yoga allowed me to face the fear head-on, dismantle a certain amount of it and see the bigger picture. That picture was that I was a motherless woman who truly wanted to mother a child. I allowed myself to feel the fear but found the courage to move through it.
I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl at 44 years old who continues to rock my world and teach me more about myself than often I want to know. In raising my daughter and continuing to make yoga the cornerstone of my life, I am honoring a powerful legacy my mother left me;
I am a devoted yoga teacher and an equally devoted mom . . . yes, I can have it all!
And so the journey continues to be about moving through whatever is presenting itself at the moment, rolling my mat out, and beginning again.